One of Wild’s best players was not coming back, and it was the team that sent him away.
Financially tight Wild could not afford a new contract for winger Kevin Fiala and traded the 30-goal scorer for Los Angeles on Wednesday in exchange for a first-round draft pick and defender Brock Faber by Gophers.
Fiala is expected to receive a seven-year contract from the Kings worth around $55 million.
“We have no limited space,” said General Manager Bill Guerin, who knew during the off-season the team would achieve this result with Fiala. “Honestly, to keep him we’d have to trade three or two and deplete your team more. Then next year we’ll be in it even more.
“It just doesn’t fit.”
This math has been clear for a while, makes Fiala’s departure seem possible if not inevitable.
A serious cap crisis has been created since Wild acquired Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last yearwith acquisition costs escalating from about $4.7 million to nearly $13 million.
Add in the deals already in the books, and Wild has limited spending power – under $7 million this summer to be exact. That kind of budget makes keeping Fiala impractical, especially as the team want to re-sign goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury and defender Jake Middleton. Wild will need to deduct points in order to stay with Fiala, a decision Guerin points out will lead to another hole in the roster.
In the core composition of the team, Fiala is the only player whose contract has expired and is still considered a restricted free agent after agreeing to a one-year, $5.1 million deal in advance. previous season.
But Wild still paid a heavy price to move Fiala out, and that detracts from a dynamic step forward in his prime.
“Kevin has really become a special player over the last few years with Minnesota,” Guerin said.
After a slow start to the season this year, the 25-year-old winger has set career heights in goals (33), assists (52) and points (85) while filling full of formidable attack with rookies Matt Boldy and Frederick Gaudreau.
His 12-game scoring streak is tied for the longest in franchise history, and Fiala set a team record with 5 assists in a single game and 4 assists/ points over a period of time. He also had the second most goals and points in the NHL from April 8 to the end of the season before scoring three assists in six playoffs against St.Louis.
Overall, in 215 games against Wild, Fiala scored 79 goals and 107 assists for 186 points. He has led the organization in all three categories since joining the group for a February 2019 deal brings Mikael Granlund to Nashville.
When asked how Wild would replace Fiala’s offense, Guerin said, “We don’t know. We’ll have to play the games and see how people produce. We can do it. I don’t know.”
Los Angeles expressed an immediate interest in Fiala, Guerin said, and the Kings were serious in their pursuit.
Guerin does not feel the need to wait and believes he has secured fair value in the deal. The first-rounder from Los Angeles was number 19, with Guerin referring to how hard it is for teams to give up high picks. Along with the first at 24, Wild has a total of eight picks in the draft, which begins next Thursday in Montreal.
In Faber, Wild is adding an alumnus of the US National Team Development Program who won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2021 World Youth Championship and was selected to the second round ( total 45) in 2020 by Kings.
Named Gophers captain on Wednesday, the Maple Grove native ended up with two goals and 12 assists in 32 games last season as a sophomore and play at the Olympics.
“He’s excited about being able to play for his hometown team at some point,” said Guerin, who sees Faber as a “senior prospect” who isn’t far from the NHL.
Having options to become an expert will help Wild overcome salary constraints, which will become increasingly difficult.
Fast forward another year and the acquisition of Parise and Suter will cost Wild nearly $15 million in cap space over two seasons.
Time will tell how the team deals with that, but its future no longer includes Fiala.
“We knew we wouldn’t be able to do that,” Guerin said. “We know it. They know it. It doesn’t make any sense to just try… to fit this and match that and give them a low deal. It won’t work. We knew we were going to have to move him.”
Farewell to Fiala
Kevin Fiala spent a little over three seasons with the Wild, arriving in Minnesota for the 2018-19 season from the Nashville Predators. The winger was the 11th overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft.
Seasonal game objective supports points +/-
2018-19 19 3 4 7-12
2019-20 64 23 31 54 -1
2020-21 50 20 20 40 -2
2021-22 82 33 52 85 23
Career 419 124 159 283 17